May Car Sales Lower Than Expectations
U.S. vehicle sales in May totaled 1.3 million vehicles, lower than analysts' expectations, prompting concern that the economy was sputtering — again.
Typically the strongest of the year, May sales this year were up a hefty 26 percent (analysts had predicted a 30-percent rise) from 1.1 million sales a year ago a year ago. That put the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales at 13.8 million, the lowest SAAR so far this year.
Coincidentally, automakers delivered their May sales reports on the same day that the jobs report came out, showing only 69,000 new jobs were created in May. The disappointing jobs report prompted concern by some analysts and media that the auto sales recovery could slow.
However, Edmunds.com's Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell said a weak Memorial Day weekend — a holiday that generally gives May sales their big boost — was to blame. "It didn't play as significant a role this year," she said. She suggested that automakers aired fewer blockbuster-deal ads this year compared to recent Memorial Day weekends or that consumers aren't responding to the "deal" advertising like they once were. That has a silver lining, Caldwell said. "Consumers are buying because they want to buy not because they are lured by the holiday deal."
Longer term, Edmunds.com still foresees pent-up demand continuing to be released in the future, supported by wider availability of credit.
Edmunds.com's Chief Economist Lacey Plache echoed the sentiments of economists for Ford and GM, noting it is premature to become alarmed. "Strong hiring in the beginning of the year reflected employers playing catch-up from last year, when hiring slowed in the face of economic uncertainty. It is to key remember that the economic recovery pace is slower following a recession triggered by a financial crisis. Now, the economy is simply returning to that slower pace, including hiring. "
On the plus side, she noted that consumers with jobs are still spending and income is still growing, albeit at a modest pace. "For auto sales, consumer willingness to spend is key and autos have the added plus factor of pent-up demand being driven back to market as the fleet ages and credit expands again," she said. "As long as consumers keep spending, this will continue to move the economy in the right direction and eventually hiring will follow."
Toyota delivered this May's stand-out performance, with sales up a stunning 87 percent from a year ago. The resurgence Toyota and the other Japanese automakers comes at the expense of Detroit automakers. The final tally will show General Motors and Ford with lower market share than a year ago, when they capitalized on the Japanese automakers' woes. Chrysler, however, continued to show resilience with sales up 30 percent, giving it a market share gain.
May 2012 vs Apr 2012
May 2012 vs May 2011
In contrast to the first quarter when incentives hit their lowest levels in seven years, incentives in May edged higher. Edmunds.com estimates the average incentive in May rose 1.8 percent from April to $2,092 per vehicle in May. "It's likely that incentives will continue a slow but steady rise in the coming months," said Edmunds.com's Caldwell. "There will be bigger discounts available on 2012 models through the summer to help dealers clear the way for incoming 2013 models. In fact, 2013 models already account for about 6.5 percent of new car sales."
Auto company executives, quizzed about the return of sales objective-based incentives that are also called stair-step incentives, insisted in calls with media and analysts on Friday that they intended to remain disciplined in keeping incentives reasonable and production in line with demand.
Here's a rundown of May sales company by company:
General Motors: General Motors reported sales of 245,256 vehicles, up 11 percent from May last year and almost spot on with Edmunds.com's forecast. GM boasted that its May sales were the highest in almost three years — since the Cash for Clunkers month of August 2009. Edmunds.com estimates GM inched up incentives by about 2 percent from April to an average of $3,417 per vehicle.
In contrast to recent months, three of GM's four divisions posted year-over-year sales increases. Chevrolet was up 10 percent while GMC and Buick each increased 19 percent. Cadillac, which launches two new models this year while it sells down discontinued ones, had sales fall 15 percent.
GM's large crossovers — the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse — had a good month, thanks to incentives as the current versions are sold down to make way for the freshened versions. In keeping with an industry trend during May, GM's full-size trucks were strong, up 23 percent; both the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra had 20-percent plus sales hikes. But so were sales of its smaller cars up.
The new Chevrolet Sonic had another good month with 7,205 units sold. Chevrolet Cruze sales fell 13 percent, but compared with an extremely strong May 2010 when it filled in the gap left by the Japanese automakers being largely out of the market. Other strong performers were the new Buick Verano, with 3,609 sold, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. Edmunds.com estimates Chevrolet had among the biggest discounts in May, an average of nearly 11 percent off list price, about the same as in April.
Cadillac is awaiting this month's arrival of the entry-level, BMW 3-Series fighting ATS and the flagship XTS sedan later this year. Still, it's core products didn't have a great month compared with a year ago; CTS sales dipped 3 percent and SRX sales were flat.
Buick had a good month with the Enclave, up 55 percent to 6,709 vehicles. However, sales of the midsize Regal, available with a range of engines from a fuel-efficient one to a turbo, saw sales plummet 40 percent. The new Verano small car kicked in 3,609 sales.
Always the automaker's strong performer, GMC had a good month, with sales of the Acadia and Terrain crossovers along with the Sierra pickup fueling its rise.
Ford: Ford Motor Co. reported sales of 216,267 in May, a 13-percent increase compared with May, 2011. Edmunds.com forecast May sales of 222,712 for Ford in May, which would have represented a 16.3-percent gain compared to May, 2011.
Edmunds.com's proprietary True Cost of Incentives (TCI) metric indicated that incentive spending at Ford was up 4.8 percent in May, and Ford executives told media and analysts in a conference call that the company had increased incentives on some models in May, notably the Fusion midsize sedan and Escape compact crossover, as those vehicles begin a run-out phase in transition to all-new 2013 models.
The strategy helped translate into the best sales month ever for the long-in-the-tooth Fusion, which posted 26,857 sales, an 8.9-percent gain compared with last May. Sales for Ford cars in total were up 7.8 percent for the month, with all models except the Fiesta subcompact (-14.6 percent) posting sales gains. The compact Focus burst out for a near-25,000-unit month, its 24,769 sales marking an 11.1-percent gain compared with May, 2011. And the Mustang notched a hefty 57.8-percent increase to 10,427 sales as the revised 2013 model rolled out; year-to-date, Mustang sales are up 27 percent.
Led by a bulging 23,077 sales for the Escape — the all-new 2013 model began reaching dealerships during the month — sales for Ford's utility vehicles were up 11 percent in May, although the Escape's number actually represented a 0.3-percent decline compared with last May. It was the best month ever for the redesigned Explorer, which sold 14,662 units, while the Flex enjoyed a 40.4-percent gain to 3,818 sales.
As usual, the best-selling F-Series pickup was the largest contributor to Ford's sales for the month. Sales for the F-Series were up 29.3-percent to 54,836 and the F-Series surpassed a quarter-million sales for the year, with sales through May reaching 246,116. Sales boss Ken Czubay said May was the best month ever for the Transit Connect commercial vehicle, which moved 3,937 units for a 52.5-percent gain. The Transit Connect's large increase may have been indicative of Ford's outsized fleet share in May, when fleet sales accounted for 35 percent of Ford's total.
At the Lincoln premium-vehicle division, total sales of 7,274 marked a slight 1.7-percent decline. The MKS flagship was up 24.2 percent to 1,128 sales and the MKX crossover improved by 26.7 percent to 2,197 sales. The MKT large crossover, something of a limousine replacement for the discontinued Town Car, sold 812 units in May for a 103.5-percent gain.
Toyota: Toyota Motor Sales, which includes Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, reported sales of 202,973 vehicles, up 87 percent from a year ago, when the automaker's sales were hurt by production disruptions caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
But Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, contends the hefty year-over-year comparison isn't just about recovery from the natural disasters. "That certainly does account for a part of the increase. But there's more to the story than just supply recovery," he said in Friday's conference call with media and analysts. He pointed out that Toyota started with the same number of vehicles in inventory this May and last but sold 100,000 more vehicles this May than last.
It's in part due to an improving economy and bolstered consumer confidence, which hit its highest level in more than 4 ½ years in May, he noted, combined with improved credit availability that is helping the release of pent-up demand. But it is also due to the response to new models from Toyota, which is in the midst of its biggest new product roll-out in history.
At the Toyota Division, May sales totaled 181,510 vehicles, up 89 percent from a year ago. Camry remained the best-selling car in America with sales up 110 percent from May to May. The sporty SE model now accounts for 40 percent of Camry sales and is attracting a younger buyer than Camry did before, Carter said. Sales of the Prius, which has expanded into a family to include the entry-level C and the roomier V, soared 210 percent. Corolla and RAV4, which benefitted from much-improved availability, had sales rise 88 percent and 123 percent, respectively. Sales of the redesigned Yaris soared 108 percent.
Trucks and SUVs, Carter said, benefitted from lower gas prices. Tundra and Highlander sales were up triple digits.
Lexus reported sales of 21,463 units, up 74 percent, led by the new GS. The luxury marque gets a host of new models this year, including freshened versions of the high-volume RX crossover and ES midsize sedan. Scion sales came in at 6,047 units, up 19 percent versus May 2011.
Carter said Toyota will try to maintain the momentum in June by continuing to over zero-percent financing and attractive lease deals on most of its models. Toyota upped incentives by 6 percent in May from April but is second lowest in spending next to Honda at an average of $1,458 per vehicle, according to Edmunds.com estimates.
Chrysler: Chrysler Group reported sales of 150,267 in May, a 30-percent increase compared with May, 2011. Edmunds.com forecast May sales of 164,083 for Chrysler in May, which would have represented a 42.2-percent gain compared to May, 2011.
Edmunds.com's proprietary True Cost of Incentives (TCI) metric indicated that incentive spending at Ford was down 8.4 percent in May; despite this, the company said it was Chrysler's best May since 2007 — and it was the 26th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. Each of Chrysler's four brands — Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram — posted double-digit sales gains for the month, the Chrysler unit leading with an 81-percent overall sales jump.
Propelled by a 140-percent explosion for the Chrysler 300 flagship (to 6,101 sales) and an 87-percent gain for the 200 midsize sedan to 13,250 units, the Chrysler brand sold 29,674 vehicles in May. The other Chrysler-branded vehicle, the Town & Country minivan, sold 10,323 units for its own 56-percent improvement — at ironic performance in the same month that the company confirmed it plans to eliminate the Town & Country and sell minivans under the single Dodge Caravan nameplate.
Sales for the Jeep division were up 24 percent overall, with a hefty 44-percent increase (to 14,454 units) for the Wrangler leading the way. Sales for the Grand Cherokee were 13,274 in May, an improvement of 40 percent compared with May, 2011, and marking the Grand Cherokee's best May since 2005; all of Jeep's nameplates save the Compass compact car (-18 percent) posted sales gains for the month.
Chrysler's Dodge brand had mixed results in May: there were strong performances for the Avenger (+93 percent to 10,682 sales) and Journey compact crossover (up 56 percent to 5,789 units), but sales for the Caliber compact car were off 61 percent as the company prepares to transfer its small-car strategy to the all-new Dart and the Nitro is in the final stages of discontinuance.
May sales for the Ram pickup line were up 29 percent to 26,040. Trucks outsold cars by more than a 2-to-1 pace at Chrysler in May.
Honda: American Honda reported sales of 133,997 in May, a 47.6-percent increase compared with May, 2011. Edmunds.com forecast May sales of 135,908 for Honda, which would have represented a 49.7-percent gain compared to May, 2011.
Edmunds.com's proprietary True Cost of Incentives (TCI) metric indicated that incentive spending at Honda was up 22.8 percent in May, the largest increase of any of the Big 6 U.S. and Japanese automakers. Honda's estimated TCI average of $1,207 per vehicle is the lowest actual figure among the Big 6, however, and well less than the industry's May average TCI of $2,092.
Demonstrating what Honda can do when it puts its collective mind to the task — and when it has supply, an advantage the company did not have last May in the aftermath of an historic earthquake and tsunami in Japan — Honda sold an enormous 33,490 copies of the Civic compact car in May. The number was an 82.6-percent leap compared with last May. The company's other mainstay, the midsize Accord, nearly matched the Civic's outsized performance, with May sales rocketing up 74.7 percent to 29,737.
Honda's hybrid-electric cars were going the other direction in May. Sales for the Insight hatchback to just 512, a 64.3-percent dive. And the CR-Z hybrid coupe sold a paltry 296 units in May, an 81-percent plunge. Honda's conventionally-powered and sporadically popular Fit subcompact car also was roughed-up in May: sales dropped 34.5 percent to 3,879.
Honda's "truck" business flourished in May, as was the case with most full-line manufacturers. The high-volume CR-V compact crossover broke out for a 54.4-percent gain compared with the earthquake-affected numbers of last May, selling 25,186 units. And the Odyssey minivan posted a solid 31-percent gain to 12,348 sales. Every Honda truck nameplate — including the maligned CrossTour version of the Accord — recorded double-digit sales gains in May.
Honda's upscale Acura division had its best monthly sales in more than two years, with overall sales up 62.1 percent to 14,586. The redesigned RDX compact crossover leapt to a 216.8-percent gain to 3,301 units, the best-ever sales month for the RDX. Sales for the TSX sedan were up 64.5 percent to 2,880 and the TL midsize sedan led Acura's car lines with 3,262 sales, a 48.5-percent gain. The all-new ILX compact car chipped in with 168 sales.
Nissan: Nissan North America, Inc. , which includes the Nissan and Infiniti brands, sold 91,794 vehicles in May. Sales rose 21 percent from last May when the automaker's U.S. inventories were diminished by production disruptions caused by Japan's earthquake two months earlier. Nissan was hurt the least of Japan's Big Three and recovered fastest. Edmunds.com had forecasted a 28-percent rise from Nissan, which raised incentives 9 percent in May from April.
This May, Nissan Division sales increased to 81,202 vehicles, up 16 percent. The Nissan Rogue set a new May sales record with 11,977 units sold, up 72 percent from a year ago. The Juke had its best-ever May with 3,298 units sold for a 66 percent increase. Versa sales rose 80 percent to 8,643 units. Sales of the Altima were down 11 percent as the midsize sedan is in sell-down mode. The new 2013 Altima goes on sale this month.
"Fuel-efficient models like the Versa, Juke and Rogue had a great May, but moderating gas prices drove gains across our entire truck lineup," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. Sales of the Frontier were up 17.2 percent, Titan was up 86.7 percent, Pathfinder rose 32.6 percent and Armada climbed 26 percent. The Murano crossover also had a good month with sales up 35 percent to 4,550 units; Quest minivan sales soared 106 percent to 1,802 vehicles.
The fuel-efficient model that didn't sell well was the all-electric Leaf. May sales plummeted 55 percent to a mere 510 units sold.
Sales of luxury Infiniti models, hurt even worse than Nissan-branded models by the earthquake's aftermath, soared 66 percent to 10,592 units. The Infiniti G Sedan had sales of 3,758, an increase of 40 percent and the best May since 2008. The QX full-size luxury SUV had its best May since 2006, with sales of 994, an increase of 28 percent. The new JX , a seven-passenger crossover, contributed incremental sales of 2,678 units for May.
Hyundai: Hyundai Motor America reported sales of 67,019 in May, a 13-percent increase compared with May, 2011. The company said May was its second-best month of sales ever in the U.S.
Hyundai has begun to find it difficult to continue to post year-over-year increases each month, in part because prior-year comparisons have set the bar so high — and in part because the company is, by all appearances, capacity-constrained on many volume models. In a release, Hyundai said its days' supply in May was an ultra-thin 32 days. "Having demand exceed supply is an enviable position to be in, but it forces us to be exceptionally efficient in our production planning, inventory management, and sales velocity," explained Dave Zuchowski, executive vice-president of sales, in Hyundai's sales release.
Much of Hyundai's sales increase in May was attributable to the 3,624 incremental sales of the Veloster sport coupe, a vehicle that was not yet on sale in May, 2011. The other primary contributor to the month's sales improvement was the Accent subcompact car, which was up more than 400 percent to 6,166 units. But May sales of the Sonata midsize sedan (20,765) and Elantra compact sedan (18,877), by far Hyundai's two highest-volume models, were off respectively by 9 percent and 7 percent.
Other notable Hyundai gainers for the month included the all-new 2013 Azera fullsize sedan, which sold 1,053 units for a 658-percent leap, and the Azera luxury car sold 351 units for a 59-percent gain. On the truck side, the Tucson, Santa Fe and Veracruz crossovers each posted small sales gains in May.
Kia: Kia Motors America reported sales of 51,771 in May, a 7.4-percent increase compared with May, 2011. It was Kia's best-ever month of May — and during the month the brand surpassed 4 million sales since entering the U.S. in 1994.
Kia's big gainer once again was the sleek Optima midsize sedan: the company sold 13,363 Optimas in May, an 80-percent increase compared with last year. The Rio subcompact also posted a healthy gain of 60 percent to 4,019 sales. But those two were the only Kia models to gain for the month.
It was declining sales in May for Kia's popular Sorento midsize crossover, which slid by 8 percent and even the strong-selling Soul compact hatchback, which moved 10,146 units in May for a 9-percent decline. Also dropping for the month were sales of the Sportage compact crossover and Forte compact car, as well as the fading Sedona minivan.
Volkswagen: Volkswagen of America, Inc. sold 38,657 vehicles sold in May, a 28.4 percent increase over May 2011 for its best May since 1973 and keeping the German brand's track for a record year. "Selling over 38,000 vehicles this month is a significant accomplishment for Volkswagen," said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
Volkswagen sales were paced by those of the new Passat, which had sales of 10,178, its third consecutive month of 10,000 plus sales. Last week, Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., built its 100,000th Passat. Jetta remained Volkswagen's volume leader with sales of 12,962, down 9 percent.
Beetle sales totaled 3,002 units in May, the first time it has seen the 3,000-sales mark since 2002. Golf and GTI sales totaled 3,878 units, up 11 percent. Tiguan crossover sales were off 20 percent; CC sales were down 60 percent. Routan minivan sales rose 40 percent. Touareg sales soared 21 percent, largely on the strength of the diesel model; half of the Touareg Volkswagen sales are sold with diesel engines.
Clean diesels accounted for 20 percent of Volkswagen's May sales. Browning told reporters in a conference call that consumers continue to embrace fuel-efficient diesels despite lower gas prices because they see gas prices increasing over the long term. "Consumers are prioritizing fuel economy," he said.
Subaru: Subaru of America, Inc. reported record sales for May of 29,724 vehicles, a 48-percent gain from May 2011. Subaru's higher sales were fueled by the new Impreza, which posted a shopping 235-percent gain over a year ago May.
"Demand for the newly-introduced Impreza has far exceeded expectations," Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc.
Except for the quirky Tribeca crossover, sales of all Subaru models were up: sales of the Outback, Subaru's volume leader, rose 9 percent; Forester sales climbed 31 percent; Outback sales edged 9 percent higher. Tribeca sales dropped 10 percent to a miniscule 165 units.
The new BRZ sports car arrived in May, accounting for 271 sales, but even more showroom traffic, said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president of sales, Subaru of America, Inc. "We anticipate similar enthusiasm for the new XV Crosstrek, our exciting small crossover vehicle, when it arrives at dealerships later this year."
BMW: The BMW Group in the U.S. reported sales of 28,321 in May, a 7.1-percent increase compared with May, 2011. The figure included sales from BMW's Mini small-car division, where sales increased by 6.1 percent.
In May, BMW got significant gains from the 5-Series midsize sedan (up 45.3 percent to 6,102 units) and 6-Series, which increased 160 percent to 725 sales. The entry-level 1-Series sold 628 copies, a 51.7-percent improvement. The brand's best-seller, the 3-Series line, posted 6,321 sales but was off by 22.1 percent.
BMW's crossovers all gained for the month. The X3 improved by 4.7 percent to 2,460 units, the X5 had a 39-percent gain to 3,730 sales and the X6 was up 31.4 percent on 749 sales.
At Mini, the new Roadster and Coupe added respective incremental volume of 254 and 287 units. The brand's best-seller, the standard Cooper/Cooper S, was off 3.5 percent to 2,679 units, but the Cooper Convertible line was up by 23.3 percent and the Countryman was up by 3.9 percent to 1,776 sales. Sales for the Clubman were down by 35.7 percent to 507 units.
Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz USA reported sales of 25,259 in May, a 24.4-percent increase compared with May, 2011. The company said the figure — which now includes sales of Sprinter commercial vans and the smart city car unit — made for its best-ever May sales in the United States.
Mercedes' passenger cars were the brand's largest gainers for the month, with the entry-level C-Class emerging as the volume leader with 6,649 sales, a 34.7-percent improvement compared with May, 2011. The E-Class followed with 5,576 sales, but the number represented a 3-percent decline compared with last year. The M-Class midsize crossover posted a bulging 65.9-percent improvement to become Mercedes' third-best seller with 3,198 deliveries.
Possibly indicating something must be going right in some corner of the U.S. economy, gaudy gains in May came from Mercedes-Benz's low-volume niche models. The CLS sport sedan sold 743 units for a 1,855-percent leap, the SL roadster was up 458 percent on 709 sales and the smaller SLK roadster was up 543 percent on 405 sales. The SLS AMG supercar was up 295 percent to 83 sales.
Apart from the E-Class, other decliners for Mercedes in May included the CL-Class, R-Class, G-Class and G- and GL-Class SUVs.
Mazda: Mazda North American Operations sold 20,357 vehicles in May, an increase of 13.9 percent from a year ago, with the new CX-5 compact crossover as a big contributor.
The CX-5 rang up 3,973 sales in its first full month on the market. However the rest of Mazda's crossover line posted drops. CX-7 sales fell 33 percent to 1,320 sold; CX-9 dipped 4 percent to 1,724 sold.
On the car side, Mazda6 sedan sales rose 40 percent to 2,294 units. Mazda's volume leader, the Mazda3, posted 4-percent lower sales at 8,474 vehicles. MX-5 Miata sales edged 3 percent higher to 621 units sold.
Audi: Audi of America Inc. reported sales of 11,503 in May, a 24.4-percent increase compared with May, 2011. Audi said in its sales release that May was its best-ever and marked its 17th consecutive month of record-setting sales.
All of Audi's volume gain for the month can be attributed to the 1,223-unit gain for the A6 midsize sedan, a 260.2-percent jump. The brand's only other sales gain was the 5-percent improvement from the Q5 compact crossover, which sold 2,332 units.
Audi's best-seller in May was the A4 lineup, although its 3,058 sales nonetheless amounted to a 4.2-percent pullback compared with last May. The A4 also is off 2.3 percent for the year.
Volvo: Volvo Cars of North America reported May sales of 6,246 units, a 15-percent decrease from May 2011. Volvo's top seller was the S60 sports sedan with 2,125 units sold, down 12 percent from a year ago. The XC60 was its next best seller at 1,751 sold, up 26 percent. XC70 sales rose 4 percent but the rest of the line had lower sales than a year ago.
Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi Motors North America sold 5,575 vehicles in May, down 26 percent but still the Japanese brand's second best month since September 2011. Every model in Mitsubishi's line showed a significant decline — double digits in most cases — except the Galant, which was up 31 percent and the Lancer Evolution, which was up 52 percent to 308 units. Mitsubishi sold 85 units of the all-electric i car.
"For several more months our year-over-year sales will continue to be impacted by our models whose production was completed last summer," said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. Production of the Outlander Sport moves from Japan to Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, Ill., this summer.
Jaguar Land Rover: Jaguar Land Rover North America sod 4,513 luxury cars and SUVs in May, up 8 percent from a year ago. Land Rover sales for the month were up 19 percent to 3,438 units. The award-winning Evoque hit 706 sales for the month. The volume-leading Ranger Rover Sport slipped 1 percent to 1,197 units sold. Jaguar sales were down 15 percent to 1,075 cars. The volume leader was the XJ with 494 units sold.
Porsche: Porsche Cars North America, Inc. sold 2,852 vehicles in May, up 1 percent from a year ago. The German sports car maker sold 878 units of the new, highly-acclaimed 911, 43 percent more than a year ago. Panamera sedan sales rose 22 percent. Porsche sold only 49 Boxster/Cayman models, down from 331 a year ago, as the automaker clears the decks for the third-generation Boxster arriving in July. Cayenne sales were also lower.
Suzuki: American Suzuki sold 2,360 vehicles in May, a 3-percent increase from a year ago. Sales were paced by the Grand Vitara with a 25-percent gain to 474 units. The Equator had 7-percent higher sales to 186 units. Suzuki's volume-leading SX4 had 1-percent lower sales at 1,101 units; Kizashi sales dipped 4 percent to 599 units.